My Thoughts on Michigan from Cameron

First off, wow…what an amazing venue, great atmosphere, premium sight lines, literally not a bad seat in the house.

On to Michigan - to sum Michigan up right now, quite simply, we’re not a top 25 team at this point, and I think we all know that. Our halfcourt offense is absolutely horrible, I don’t think I have to address the defense. The only thing we really do well right now is transition offense. We NEED a true post threat on offense in the worst way. I don’t care about the system, I care about winning, and we need that bad.

From a schematic/personnel standpoint, we really only have 2 sets in the halfcourt - dribble drive left and Stauskas cuts backdoor, and high screen and roll going right. Our halfcourt execution is pathetic, and it’s due to a lack of effort. We simply don’t cut hard, our backdoor cutters literally jog when they cut. On the personnel side, I’ve been saying this for a while, Caris is a PG, not a wing, and I think Coach B may have finally realized this. Caris is simply not effective playing off the ball, he’s ten times better with the ball in his hands. His shot may have improved, but he’s still not what I would label a shooter. Our other problem is that our best defensive lineup is not our best offensive lineup and vice/versa - in other words we don’t have a roster full of 2 way players and it’s hurting us right now.

The game itself:

First 4 minutes - the entire team was absolutely terrified, save one player…Derrick Walton, he did not seem moved by the atmosphere/pressure at all, he was really poised out there and never seemed to lose control. The rest of our starters were very intimidated and it was obvious.

After the TO at 16 minutes we settled down - I really thought the difference in the first half was Michigan missing easy shots at the rim. By my count Caris missed 3 layups, Nik missed 1 layup, Horford a missed dunk, Mitch missed a 5 footer. I really thought we played Duke evenly, we just missed easy shots. We gave up a huge 3 to end the half, that was a backbreaker.

Second Half:

First few minutes we were sloppy but eventually settled down into a nice groove once Beilien realized that our halfcourt offense simply wasn’t working. He scrapped the entire gameplan and literally went Caris high screen and roll for the rest of the game and it paid dividends. Caris did a much better job finishing in the second half. Unfortunately every time we made a run Duke answered with a 3.

Turning point - we cut the lead to 34 - 28, got a stop on D, Caris comes down missed a layup, and promptly gave up 2 threes to Dawkins - 8 point swing in 1 minute…game, set, match.

Player takeaways

Caris - he is a PG and not a 2/3, very good with the ball in his hands, great change of direction/speed. Still not a good shooter in my opinion. Next year he will be absolutely unstoppable if he gains 10 - 15 pounds. Still has trouble finishing at times because of strength issues. Despite what people think, Caris is not a very good defender, he really has trouble on screen and roll, and just doesn’t close out very well. Other teams have watched film, and Caris is targeted in the post literally every game now. Personally, I think he’s a defensive liability. We can talk about all the tools we want, but production is what matters, not length.

Walton - I honestly think this kid is going to be special. He was not afraid of the moment early on when everybody else was. I actually think Coach B should let him be more aggressive, we have to live with some of his silly mistakes in order to let him grow. He has the ability to get to the rim with ease. He could’ve taken Cook any time he wanted, it was obvious. He just has to find a way to get his shots within the confines of the offense. Good defender as well. He and Caris do not have good chemistry, they were visibly arguing during our halfcourt sets - and honestly it looked to me as if Caris had not clue what to do off ball - he would often look at Coach B for instruction.

Nik - will refrain from comment because of injury

GR3 - he has improved, but not enough to where he can make an impact as a shot creator. He is simply not aggressive enough at either end of the court. Great role player at this point, but nothing more. Still just an average shooter. I give him props though, I though he did a hell of a job on Jabari tonight. Just need to see him play with more energy.

Mitch - great rebounder, the one tough guy we have. He was pressing early on and it looked ugly. I think the biggest problem with Mitch is where he gets his touches - even when he gets entry passes they are 12 feet away, he needs to get the ball 7-9 feet away to be effective. Still think the coaches should do more to implement him in the offense.

I’ve been saying that Caris is not an off the ball player. I think it would help us defensively to insert Irvin in for Walton. Walton doesn’t do what I call purposeful dribbling. The conundrum is what happens to Spike?

Mitch is a face up forward and we should use him how the Heat uses Chris Bosh.

Our defense needs no comment since we made Quinn Cook into Chris Paul. We give guys straight line drives to the basket and it’s beyond pathetic.